Did too many gel manicures leave your nails dry and brittle? Never fear -- we have you covered! Too much experimentation with heavy-duty lacquers can leave your nails damaged and prone to breakage, so we spoke to top New York City dermatologists to find out how you can nurse them back to top form. Whether you hit the salon once a week or once a season, you can keep nails super-tough and snag-free with these handy pointers. Click the photo to see how you can keep your digits healthy in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond!http://img2.timeinc.net/instyle/images/2013/WRN/101013-HP-taylor-swift-2..."]
1. Nail Maintenance In Your 20s
School and work are major stressors-don't take it out on your tips. Avoid picking at nails and cuticles (which can cause inflammation and infections), and get into the habit of rubbing moisturizing oil over them daily so they stay smooth. Also, resist switching your polish at the sight of every chip, says N.Y.C. dermatologist Debra Jaliman, as acetone-based removers can be drying. Try the CND Vinylux system; the color formula sticks for up to a week without chipping and comes off with a few swipes of remover.
2. Nail Maintenance In Your 30s
Like your skin, nails (which are made of keratin and water) "have a harder time holding onto moisture in your 30s," says N.Y.C. dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. In addition to applying a daily hydrating oil, make sure your base coat has strengthening proteins and moisturizing vitamin E, says Dr. Jaliman. When it's time to remove your polish, ditch the acetone and grab a solution that doesn't contain this withering ingredient.
3. Nail Maintenance In Your 40s
As nails and skin become drier, you may notice your tips splitting. Twice a day, slather on a heavy-duty hydrator like Aquaphor; it contains petrolatum, an ingredient that "acts as a sealant to trap moisture," says N.Y.C. dermatologist Chris Adigun. In this decade, nail growth slows down, so adopt a flattering "squoval" shape and paint on polishes in elongating nude tones.
4. Nail Maintenance In Your 50s and Up
The nail version of wrinkles? Ridges. As you age, the nail matrix (the area of cells under the base of nails that's responsible for nail growth) can cause tips to grow more slowly and produce vertical ridges. Your Rx: Apply an ample base with tiny fibers to fill in valleys and even out surfaces. Your nails may also become thicker; if this causes discomfort, swap your daily moisturizing oil or ointment for a lotion with exfoliating lactic acid to hydrate and help dissolve the upper layer of keratin proteins.